Heads up, anime-onlies for Fruits Basket. Things are about to get supremely more messed up than you ever thought they could. You know things are serious when they skip the OP. From here on out, things get downright dark. “I’m Home” reveals the absolute toxic mentality of virtually everyone in the Soma family while offering very little in the way of levity, and while this episode is absolutely necessary for understanding the precarious position of the Zodiac curse, it’s ultimately a very heavy and depressing watch.
“I’m Home” finally shows us what happened to Rin after she was approached by Ren earlier this season, and even though I’ve read the manga and knew what was coming, it still made me so very angry. Ren and Akito using children as pawns in their bitter, twisted rivalry is a level of low that you don’t expect to see. You hate to acknowledge that people like this exist, but they do. And I have no idea why everyone hates Rin; what the hell did she ever do to anyone?
(Actually, considering Akito cut Rin’s hair – if you can call that butchery a haircut – I would assume that Rin triggers Akito’s issues with her mother. After all, she also has long black hair. That basically makes them the same person in AkitoLand.)
It’s nice to finally see everyone be so concerned for Rin. It started with just Tohru and Kagura, but now other members of the Zodiac are starting to realize that something is wrong and doing their best to find out what’s going on. What makes this so amazing is that it’s Kureno who rescues her. Kureno is the last Zodiac we met, and he’s been at Akito’s beck and call since he was introduced. His enabling of her bad behavior has no doubt weighed on him for years, and I love that he’s finally starting to show some backbone.
It is finally occurring to Kureno just how messed up this entire situation is when he’s stopped by the household attendant who admits that Zodiac members exist at Akito’s whim. The thing is, Kureno has been abused by Akito for so long that I think he’s kind of normalized her treatment of him. But when he sees what she’s done to Rin, when he stands there and listens to a grown woman, probably old enough to be his mother, tell him that it’s perfectly acceptable that Akito was imprisoning a teenager and that he shouldn’t have interfered, and it’s like the light finally comes on. He’s starting to realize just how far Akito has gone, and that it’s because of people like himself and that servant enabling her destructive behavior that literal children are getting hospitalized because of it.
It’s more than that, though. Akito has the power to have imprisoned Rin anywhere. She could have banished her to a random house on the estate. The Somas own the hospital, so she could have been locked up there. But by putting Rin in the Cat’s Cottage, it’s like the ultimate symbol of abandonment. That’s where they send the cat to die, essentially. It’s an unfathomably cruel punishment.
Think about it. I said it was nice to see other people worried about Rin in “I’m Home” because it’s likely been weeks at this point. Only a few people are truly worried about her. Most people are satisfied by the rumor she’s in the hospital even though no one seems to know why or which hospital. No one looks into it. Kureno only finds her by chance. This is the fate that awaits Kyo if they cannot break the curse, only his will be worse, because he’s the cat. No one will care about him. He’ll be slowly forgotten, wasting away and isolated in that cottage.
“I’m Home” is tense pretty much from start to finish. From the ominous scene at the beginning where Akito explains to Kureno that the box she’s holding contains her father’s remains to the scene where Hatsuharu confronts Akito and almost punches her in the face. (Shame on the almost. I’m not one to advocate for violence but if anyone needs a good punch in the face, it’s Akito.)
One thing I dislike about the introduction of Ren is that it gives a reason for Akito’s atrocious behavior, when you realize that Akito was likely abused as a child herself. Still, being a victim is no excuse for perpetuating the cycle, and Akito straight-up lying to Haru about what happened to Rin made me physically ill. Akito exhibits classic abuser symptoms even without the physical violence or the shouting.
That she blamed Haru for her pushing Rin out the window, and then when Kureno revealed they’d taken Rin to the hospital, she accused Kureno of betraying her. When Haru storms out and doesn’t come back – because why would he, I cannot honestly believe Akito thinks any of the Zodiac stay out of love – Akito throws a legitimate tantrum. Like a toddler. More and more of the Zodiac are breaking away from her; she’s becoming unhinged.
But the important thing to take away from “I’m Home” is that the bonds are unraveling. We already knew they were weak because Kureno’s curse was broken years ago, but after Haru walks away from Akito – he almost turns and goes back to her, and is convinced by Kureno to go find Rin – you can see the bond fraying. We still have no idea how Kureno’s bond snapped, but in Haru’s case, I think it’s outright defiance. I’m sure the only reason he didn’t actually beat the crap out of Akito is because he still feels the obligations of the Zodiac link, but at this point, it doesn’t matter to him. Rin is what matters. I think it’s that moment, of him choosing Rin over Akito, that does it.
And, of course, Rin and Haru are reunited at the end of “I’m Home”, which was a truly touching moment. There are so many ships to root for on Fruits Basket, and while these two are pretty volatile, they genuinely love each other. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking that they each blame themselves for a situation that is entirely of Akito’s making. I’m so happy they’re back together, and that they seem to have chosen to be together no matter what life – or Akito – throws at them.
Basically, the only other bright spot in the entire episode is the scene near the beginning where Hiro sits with his little sister, ultimately enraptured by her very existence. I love Hiro’s mom, and how steadfast she is in her faith that he’ll be a good big brother. I also appreciate that whichever random family member Satsuki is talking to doesn’t disparage Hiro’s character or abilities just because he’s a Zodiac member.
Most of “I’m Home” focuses on Haru, Rin, and Kureno – for good reason – but it’s important that we acknowledge Hiro disobeying Akito’s order and telling Haru about Rin being pushed out the window. He also finally confessed that he’s the reason Akito hit Kisa. These are both big steps not only for Hiro, but for the fraying of the Zodiac bonds. It was Haru’s defiance that caused his to fray, so there’s likely something similar happening with Hiro’s. He cares about Kisa, he cares about his sister. These are people that love him in a way Akito probably isn’t capable of, and will go a long way in freeing him from the curse.
I truly believe that Fruits Basket is a show that gets better every episode. I am so excited for what’s coming next.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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